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"Christmas is getting so expensive it scares me," a player remarked between deals at the club. "Santa's aliases ought to be Saint Nick, Kris Kringle and American Express."

"You're scared of Christmas?" I marveled.

"Clear case of Claus-trophobia," a kibitzer chuckled.

South's play of the next deal suggested he was afraid of more than just Christmas. He took the ace of hearts and lost a trump finesse. West led another heart, and South then lost one trick in each suit.

Show me a man who fears Christmas, and I'll show you Noel Coward; and show me a declarer who's afraid to wait to draw trumps, and I'll show you someone who goes down when he shouldn't. South must win the first heart with the king to lead a low club. He can't lead trumps; he needs a quick discard for his heart loser.

When West takes the king and leads another heart, South wins, cashes the queen of clubs, returns a diamond to his ace and throws dummy's last heart on the ace of clubs.

You hold: K 4 J 10 8 3 K J 8 5 K 7 4. You pass as dealer, the next player passes and your partner opens one spade. The next player passes. What do you say?

A: Bid two no trump. If you hadn't passed originally, this bid would be forcing and would promise 13 to 15 points, balanced distribution and a certain trick in each unbid suit. After you've passed, you promise the same type of hand but with only 11 or 12 points.

South dealer

North-South vulnerable
Q 9 8 2
A 7 2
7 6 4 3
Q 5
K 4
J 10 8 3
K J 8 5
K 7 4
6 3
Q 9 5
Q 10 9
J 10 9 6 3
A J 10 7 5
K 6 4
A 2
A 8 2
South West North East
1 Pass 2 Pass
3 Pass 4 All Pass
Opening lead -- J

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